Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment


   The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, in relevant part:

  "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech..."

   Article I, sec. 9 of the Indiana Constitution (Article I is our State’s Bill of Rights) reads:

      "No law shall be passed, restraining the free interchange of thought and opinion, or restricting the right to speak,    write, or print, freely on any subject whatever: but for the abuse of that right, every person shall be responsible."

   The United States Supreme Court has long held that commercial speech is protected by the First Amendment.   Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748, 96 S.Ct. 1817 (1976). The First Amendment was held applicable to the States through the doctrine of incorporation as long ago as the case of Gitlow v.New York, 268 U.S. 652, 45 S.Ct. 625 (1925). 

   Indianapolis will be host to the Super Bowl on February 5, 2012, only two weeks from the date on which I write this. What on Earth could the First Amendment and similar (though more extensive) provisions of the Indiana Constitution have to do with the Super Bowl?

   Indianapolis has enacted ordinances especially for the Super Bowl.

   One important aspect of Indianapolis playing host to (as opposed to having its Colts play in) the Super Bowl is: Indianapolis will lose money. Oh yeah, we would lose money if the Colts were playing on February 5. So that aspect is not relevant.

   What is relevant is the City-County Council’s enactment of ordinances that play to the whims of the NFL.  The National Football League is a not-for-profit corporation. That is right. Then why is Indianapolis giving so many perquisites to the NFL? For example, the NFL will collect all of the tax revenue generated by sales of concessions in Lucas Oil Stadium. And what does all this have to do with "free speech"?

   The ordinances have created what are called "Clean Zones" for the period leading up to and shortly following the Super Bowl. Who can argue with the notion of something called a "Clean Zone"? Probably the same people who complained about "ethnic cleansing"—hey, but that was a legitimate complaint.

   To repeat what I blogged yesterday, next Saturday, January 28, 2012, at 11:00 a.m., "Civil Discourse Now" will film one or more acts of civil disobedience, defined by Black’s Law Dctionary: "A deliberate but nonviolent act of lawbreaking to call attention to a particular law or set of laws of questionable legitimacy or morality."

   The conduct will address corporate greed and oppression in its campaign to extract as much money from the people of this County and State as possible (before leaving down with the money) while the corporation quashes free speech.

   Like I said, mark it on your calendars, put a Post-It® note on your monitor, or do one of the weird things people can do these days with personal digital devices to remind themselves of anything and everything.

   Saturday, January 21, 2012, at 11:00 a.m.: we shall speak to the World (and even people in Antarctica or on the International Space Station, if they are tuned in).


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Comment by Mark Small on January 24, 2012 at 6:19am


You have a different reading of Citizens United than I do. I am for free speech.

Comment by Paul K. Ogden on January 23, 2012 at 8:34am

I think there is a signficant question whether the Clean Zone and other sign limits violates the First Amendment.


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